14 September 2023 at 10:00 am

Brazil and New Zealand united on sustainability – check out the Kōrerorero: Voice of the Oceans

Living and studying in Aotearoa New Zealand inspired Brazilian David Schurmann to create Voice of the Oceans, a global initiative to combat plastic pollution in the seas. 


Science, sustainability, and innovation were the focus of a special edition of Kōrerorero, which presented the Voice of the Oceans initiative. The online event, held in late August, showed the importance of education for building a more sustainable planet and highlighted the potential of cooperation between Brazil and Aotearoa New Zealand on issues related to the future of the planet. 

Kōrerorero was produced by Education New Zealand Manapou ki te Ao (ENZ) in Brazil and featured an introduction by Bruna de Natale, ENZ’s market development manager in Brazil. It was the first time that the event was broadcast in Portuguese, with simultaneous translation into English. 

New Zealand Ambassador to Brazil, His Excellency Mr Richard Prendergast formally welcomed attendees to the event. 

“The ocean and its resources are under pressure due to human activities, such as overfishing and pollution,” said Richard. “New Zealand’s approach to promoting a healthy ocean and ensuring good management of its resources involves education, to reinforce decision-making based on traditional knowledge and support development,” he added. 

The kōrerorero featured the CEO of Voice of the Oceans, David Schurmann, who is an alumni from Aotearoa New Zealand – he has a degree in Cinema from Auckland University of Technology and, in addition to his work at Voice of the Oceans, is a filmmaker. His film “Little Secret”, from 2017, was chosen as the Brazilian representative in the competition for one of the places in the best foreign film category at the Academy Awards. He is part of the Schurmann Family, which since 1984 has carried out maritime expeditions around the world to promote sustainability. 

Currently, the sailboat Kat, from Voice of the Oceans, is sailing around the world to raise awareness about the importance of combating pollution caused by plastic in the oceans. In November the boat will arrive in Auckland, at the end of its journey around the globe. The boat was named Kat after Kat Schurmann, David's kiwi sister. 

“Voice of the Oceans was created because we are eyewitnesses of what has been happening in the oceans, which is plastic pollution,, warned David Schurmann during the Kōrerorero. “Over the last twenty years, as we've travelled around the world, we've noticed an increase in plastic waste in the seas,” he added. 

David also explained the role Aotearoa New Zealand played in creating Voice of the Oceans: “Part of it all has a direct connection to New Zealand – I lived and studied there for six years, where I trained as a filmmaker in the 90s. It was during this period that I realised that the New Zealand population already had a very strong ecological awareness, and that was the seed that helped me create Voice of the Oceans”, said David. 

In 2016, upon returning from a trip around the world, David and his family decided it was time to give the oceans a voice, to unite humanity around environmental protection. The objective of the initiative, according to him, is to unite people and countries in favor of practical solutions for the preservation of the seas. 

Alexander Turra, professor at the Oceanographic Institute of the University of São Paulo, classified as the best in Latin America in the latest edition of the QS World Rankings, also participated as a panelist in Kōrerorero. “We need to put the sea in people's heads, hearts and souls, so that they realize that we are intrinsically connected to it,, said Alexander. “The ocean is the foundation of what happens on the planet, so preserving the Earth starts there.” 


Kōrerorero also had the contribution of New Zealand based Brazilian researcher João Souza, leader of the Moana Project, which seeks to understand the impact of climate change and extreme events on the main food sources linked to the ocean, in Aotearoa New Zealand. According to João, the project works through partnerships with the fishing industry and communities living in coastal regions, making use of their traditional knowledge. 

“We have sensors on fishing nets, so every time fishermen throw that net into the sea, our sensors pick up signals. Thus, we are able to generate information about the ocean, even predicting the occurrence of extreme events. The knowledge acquired is shared with everyone involved”, explained João. 

The debate was mediated by Jaqueline Gil, director of international marketing and sustainability at Embratur – Brazilian Tourist Board. There were 185 registrants before the event, which was accompanied live by 69 people, who received a certificate of participation. The Kōrerorero recording is available in Portuguese and English on the ENZ online platform. 

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